Are you apologizing too much?
Franka Baly
August 9, 2014

What are you feeling sorry for?

Watch this video below before jumping into my topic for this week. Let me preface it by saying that it’s provocative and will elicit some type of strong response from you.

Pantene ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’ Commercial

“Don’t be sorry, shine strong.” Pantene uses female-empowerment advocacy to bolster its multi-faceted ‘strong is beautiful’ brand personality. For more information, visit: https://causemarketing.com/commercial-gallery/pantene-sorry-not-sorry-commercial/

Now, you can answer my question above. 

When I finished watching the video I was reminded of a conversation I had with one of my first bosses and she told me the same thing, and that was almost 20 years ago!! She said that women tend to apologize more than men, especially in positions of leadership and it makes them appear weak and lacking confidence.

Now although I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist, I love to empower women, but this video can be accused of sending mixed messages (just read the comments section below the video if you don’t believe me). While we don’t want people going around being rude to each other, we don’t want people saying they are sorry when it is not called for. Some of the scenarios they used are really controversial and could be seen as rude if actually done in your own life. I found a couple of the scenarios could be perceived either way (empowering or rude).

I think it can be a little confusing to know in what situations we should use these two little words, “I’m sorry”. Saying you are sorry is very powerful when you have hurt someone or when you genuinely have done something to be sorry for, those words are appropriate and welcome. But I think “I’m sorry” can be misused when you may intend just to say something entirely different. In some cases, we are just being lazy and instead of searching for the right words to express how we feel, we say “I’m sorry” instead.

I never actually looked up the words sorry and apologize in the dictionary so I did just that when I started working on this post. Here are how they are defined.

  • sorry: feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, pity, etc.
  • apologize: express regret for something that one has done wrong.

Notice the nuances? One is about feeling regret, compunction, sympathy, or pity and the other is related to expressing regret. You feel sorry and you apologize to express what you are sorry for.

So today I want to you truly think about when you should use the word “I’m sorry”. Here are some situations where an, “I’m sorry”, is not needed:

  • For getting busy in your life and not having time to call back someone who called you. You have nothing to feel regret about. You got busy, it happens. You called when you had a free moment. End of story.
  • For missing a call from a friend. You couldn’t catch the phone because you had your hands full, or you were doing something else. Or you just needed a moment and didn’t want to talk just then. Whatever it is, it is O-tay (as Buckwheat would say). Don’t sweat it. I am sure your friend didn’t think anything of it.
  • For being honest with someone. The truth can be hard to hear. The key is in the delivery. If you say it in a way that it is perceived as constructive feedback and done in the spirit of helping and not just to wound, then even if it stings a little, it will probably be better received.
  • At work (or in business)  when you want to make a point about something and it is in opposition to what someone else says, even if it is your boss. Do not say you’re sorry. You can say something like, “you make a great point but I would like to give a different perspective… or I have a different view…or I don’t agree”. Most sensible people will value your strength and give a thoughtful response instead of just agreeing or apologizing unnecessarily.
  • For someone else’s rudeness. I see women doing this all the time. They say “I’m sorry” to their kids, their spouses, friends, etc. The person who elicits the bad behavior should be the one to say they are sorry, not you. Young children are usually not aware of when they have done something they should be sorry for so as a mom it is your job to teach them. We are not born knowing social norms or etiquette so it must be taught. But as they get older they should be aware of appropriate behavior and when they need to apologize. When adults act a fool, that’s totally different, you shouldn’t take their rudeness as a personal weight on your shoulders. Kindly point out to them that they are behaving like a “royal arse” and tell them that they need to say they are sorry. Then move on.

In closing, I want you to be mindful of when you use the words “I’m sorry”. There are absolutely times when you should say you are sorry and other times when it is not needed. Don’t overuse it. Being overly apologetic can make you appear weak and like a pushover and we all know that you are NOT!! Notice the situations where you use it and as a fun exercise count how many times you say it in the course of a day. Could you use another word instead of “I’m sorry”? Ask yourself, “what am I being sorry for?”. Be empowered to speak up for yourself in situations where you might have apologized. In the end, I do agree with Pantene, you do need to shine strong but what does this have to do with shampoo? I missed the connection after all that. 🙂

So what did ya think? Post your comments below.
Forward this post to a friend or someone you think would benefit from the message.

 

2 Comments

  1. Joanne Zwiers

    Great post Franka. I’ve been so guilty of this over the years, but I’m trying to be more aware of how I start off my conversations to make sure “sorry” isn’t something I begin with. Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply
    • Franka

      Thank you for your comment Joanne. I am so glad the post helped you. We all struggle with this. That is why the video elicited such a response from me. I know I have said I’m sorry more often than I should as well. Now that it is a part of your consciousness, hopefully you will be mindful of how often you use it. Have a great day!

      Reply

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I’m Franka Baly, CXO

Franka Baly

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